Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lake County Circuit Court Clerk Sally Coffelt Announces Retirement Plans After 30 Years In Office; Who Will Step Up Next?

Not a lot of politicians nowadays can say they have been sent back to do their jobs for eight four-year terms in a row, but Lake County Circuit Court Clerk Sally Coffelt can. Today, in a press conference at the Lake County Government Center in Waukegan, Coffelt announced (tearing up almost the second she started talking) that she will not seek a ninth term in 2012, capping a career of over 30 years in office. Coffelt first thanked her staff, and went on to thank the Lake County judiciary, the county elected officials, and others, but most especially the voters who "rewarded me with the incredible honor to serve you."

Coffelt told Team America that she was proud of many accomplishments during her term in office but gave most of the credit to her staff of around 150 people and especially her management team. She feels that she leaves behind a firm foundation for the next clerk, especially in technology. "We have come a long way in technology in office," she said, noting that when she started, there we no computers in the office at all, and the office has been making steady strides towards increasing the use of techology to make court records more accessible.

Lake County Clerk Willard Helander, a longtime friend and colleague, told TA that "Sally's leadership in Lake County will be greatly missed; on a personal note, her friendship and assistance to me when I first was elected was invaluable. Sally has been a leader among the entire state association of circuit clerks and has brought many innovations into her office."

I caught Chief Deputy Clerk Keith Brin after the news conference, who said that "Sally has done a remarkable job serving the people of Lake County and I have been honored to serve as her Chief Deputy." Keith obviously didn't want to step on the news of Sally's announcement today with any comment on his own potential plans to run for the position, even though Sally's decision had been anticipated by people in the know. But, TA understands that Brin's campaign has already scheduled a fundraiser for early May, with more to come, and is ready to roll out a website and press release soon.

This may also fuel further speculation about other county-wide posts that will be up for election in 2012. Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller has not made any announcement about a bid for re-election, but TA hears that several Republicans are waiting in the wings should Waller decide to not run again. Of course, assuming the Lake County Coroner's position remains an elected office, there are at least two Republicans ready to run for that office.

Stay tuned for further developments....

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